Ava Wiltz celebrates tremendous career at Nederland with college scholarship step

Published 12:18 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

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NEDERLAND — The atmosphere at the signing ceremony for Ava Wiltz’s letter of intent to run cross country for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor was eager with anticipation and pride. The dome gym in Nederland was packed with friends, family and mentors who played a significant role in the high school senior’s life.

The room and its attendees were decked out in purple and gold, the colors of the university. Balloons and cake added to the festivities, and the display of Wiltz’s many medals and trophies was a testament to her athletic achievements.

“And these aren’t even all of them,” her dad, Harry Wiltz, said with a chuckle.

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Wiltz has been playing sports since she was 4 years old, and her passion is evident in her impressive athletic achievements.

Harry Wiltz spoke about his daughter’s drive and determination.

Ava Wiltz stands at Nederland High School next to her many medals and awards. (Clayton Eaves/Special to the News)

“She’s always gave everything she had, 150 percent,” he said. “She’s a self-motivator, has always maintained focus and didn’t let her social life get in the way of her goals for the future.”

Wiltz’s success in sports is matched by her academic achievements.

She is attending Mary Hardin-Baylor on a presidential academic scholarship, and graduating as second in her high school class.

Her parents feel Mary Hardin-Baylor is the perfect fit, as its small town setting without the hustle and bustle of a large university plays to her strengths as a competitor in the classroom.

Wiltz prefers to stay in at night and hone her craft.

She credits her parents for their unwavering support.

Her mother serves as a role model for her hard work and dedication, while her father provides a go-with-the-flow perspective that helps her relax when the moments get tense.

“They’ve both been able to provide me with different aspects that really mean a lot, and I think they’ve done a lot for me in ways that they don’t even know,” she said.

In addition to her parents, Wiltz credits her coaches for their support and guidance.

Athletic director Monte Barrow opened this week’s signing ceremony with a few remarks, followed by cross country coach Tommy Oleksy, who praised the start athlete for her success in school.

“Ava has done nothing but succeed for four years with us,” Oleksy said.

When asked about the valuable lessons she has learned from sports, Wiltz reflected on the importance of taking a step back.

“What’s crazy is that I’ve learned the most when I’m away from sports,” she said. “My love for these sports has taught me that it’s OK to take a step away and figure out who I really am. Because in the end, sports aren’t forever.”

It’s essential to balance her life, she said, adding she learned the importance of taking breaks to avoid burning out physically and mentally in order to be the greatest version of herself.

— Written by Clayton Eaves